Trial Journey: Cliffside Tenting on Dorset's Jurassic Coast –


gfuming, spending the evening strapped to a stretcher, winched up on the facet of the cliff, suspended over the roaring Atlantic Ocean in mid-December isn't everybody's thought to have a very good time. “I don't see a single engaging facet of this situation,” my father stated earlier than leaving. “I'm afraid you die,” my mom stated. “You might be loopy,” every of my associates stated.

Maybe. But when, like me, you get bored simply, or, like me, have one more episode of lockdown fatigue, it was an journey that was actually value dwelling. Cliff tenting is an idea that originated in Yosemite Nationwide Park in the USA within the 1980s. The primary climbers, I'm informed, pricked military beds from a close-by bunker and used them as a extra snug different to cliffside hammocks they might in any other case sleep in on lengthy climbs. Lately they’re known as "portaledges" and though they’re certainly superior to hammocks, they don’t seem to be.

Kevin, who runs the one enterprise I may discover that was nonetheless working through the winter months, was the chief of our mission. Dorset & # 39; s Jurassic Coast was the place. Julius, my boyfriend who got here from Germany to take part, was my enthusiastic companion.

We have been suggested prematurely to put on a number of layers and wrap very heat (it was 5C that evening) and met Kevin at nightfall, in a parking zone on the Isle of Portland ; the southernmost level of Dorset. From there a 15 minute stroll to the cliff prime, the place Kevin arrange our precarious mattress for the evening.

The one facet that ever bothered me was going. Having abseiled earlier than, I can attest that strolling backwards off a cliff is a feat that requires a sure overcoming of human intuition. This time, given the entire darkness, I couldn't see what I used to be backing into, which made the exercise a lot much less confrontational.

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Our portaledge was arrange 5 meters from the summit and 20 meters above the ocean, though typically through the evening, with the wind whipping the ocean in a loud frenzy under, we felt like that we have been just a few inches above the waves.

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Julius and I have been every strapped to an elaborate harness that stayed in place all through, making getting round a bit cumbersome, however the wrong way up saved us from rolling off the ledge whereas we slept.

As soon as the 2 of them have been put in, rucksack hooked up to the rope that hangs over the ledge, sitting on reverse sides to stabilize it, dinner was served; a 3 course meal that was lowered to us from above, in shifts, via a bucket; a scrumptious vegetable soup to start out, adopted by a tupperware tub of spaghetti and chocolate pudding to complete.

In any case of that was cleared and we climbed into our sleeping baggage, Kevin rushed to erect a tent gear above us, turning our ledge right into a rain-proof capsule, earlier than to present a brief speak on security. We needed to sleep excessive and low, in order to evenly distribute our weight, and in no case take away our harnesses, particularly in order to not fornicate. "It wouldn't be the primary time I needed to save a unadorned couple who knocked over the ledge," he informed us. If we wanted to make use of the bathroom, we may name him any time of the evening, and he would assist us up and down from the highest, which felt like a tedious ordeal I hoped for to keep away from.

Provides have been lowered from above utilizing a pulley system

Credit score:
Annabel Fenwick Elliott

Kevin then retreated to his van, parked close by, leaving Julius and I to organize our evening. The apparent factor to do subsequent could be to go to mattress, nevertheless it was solely 8pm and we weren't drained. Chilly, sure, however not drowsy. We have been additionally decided to be renegades and to sleep subsequent to one another, not with our heads at reverse ends, so there was a good bit of hassle discovering the appropriate stability, because the ledge wobbled and rubbed towards the rock wall.

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With that finished, Julius tied his telephone to the vertical rope in order that it hung above us, and we huddled to look at Netflix, sipping whiskey from our flask till we dozed off. , the rain lashing our tent all evening. We slept erratically, waking up usually. Inevitably, we each had to make use of the non-existent and considerably astounding rest room, each managed with out eradicating our harnesses; Julius with much more ease than me. Certainly, no matter Kevin's warning, you'd be shocked at what number of feats you may obtain whereas nonetheless staying robust. The rim was not turned over.

Morning got here, and we pushed the lid open to see the ocean beneath us for the primary time; a panoramic second that was value it. Sitting facet by facet with scorching cups of espresso and ache au chocolat, we welcome our many little triumphs and say goodbye to the ocean earlier than making our method as much as the highest; Julius with much more athleticism than me.

Then, straight to our rented cottage for a really lengthy sleep, earlier than we have been prepared for our subsequent doubtful endeavor: an invigorating swim at Durdle Door. We had taken the freedom of renting an enthralling property a 40 minute drive away, nestled alongside a chattering creek on the grounds of Athelhampton Home.

Because it was per week between lockouts it was tough to search out availability particularly in a spot able to welcome Bear, my nice German Shepherd. However Dorset Hideaways, a trip rental website with native outposts throughout the nation, discovered us the proper bolt on.

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River Cottage, a dog-friendly property on the grounds of Athelhampton Home

Credit score:
Dorset Hideaways

It’s attainable that the mattress in the main bedroom at River Cottage is certainly essentially the most snug on the earth. Extra doubtless, it was identical to that; not being the stretcher roped to the facet of a cliff, we had slept the evening earlier than. We spent extra time on this heat cottage over the following few days, taking part in video games by the Christmas tree than exterior, and felt we deserved it.

That being stated, this was Julius & # 39; s first go to to England and we couldn't get dwelling with out visiting Dorset's well-known Durdle Door. I anticipated netizens to be excited, even in early December, with Britain's new appreciation for shoreline freedom amid seemingly limitless durations of home arrest. Like I used to be improper.

We stopped half an hour earlier than sundown, strolled to the chalky arch with only a trickle of others, none of which adopted as we walked away the size of the seaside. Discovering himself completely alone and out of sight, Julius eliminated most of his winter coats and fled into the freezing waves with Bear, just like the mad German he’s. A becoming finish to an thrilling frivolous weekend publish lockdown, only a week, because it turned out, earlier than we're again in one other.

Bear and Julius at Durdle Door, which was virtually empty

Credit score:
Annabel Fenwick Elliott


Cliff tenting with Rise & Summit prices £ 500 for 2 folks. Dorset Hideaways are providing three nights at River Cottage (for six folks) from £ 779 from March 2021.


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